The Swedish furniture giant advertises to work and act sustainably. Ikea, for example, has published its “Sustainability Goals by 2030”. By then, all products should be made exclusively from renewable and recycled materials, it says here, among other things.
Now the Swedish newspaper “Aftonbladet” claims that the company disregards its own guidelines and buys wood from obscure sources. Ikea is said to be a bulk buyer of a supplier who gets the wood from a huge forest area in Ukraine. Here the trees are marked as “sick” and felled even though they are very healthy. The background: In the Ukraine, logging in the old forests is now banned. Sick trees or trees damaged by storms are excluded.
With a biologist on site
Aftonbladet reporters were on site in Ukraine. There they hiked in the Carpathian Mountains on the border with Romania in one of the last primeval forests in Europe. Bears, wolves and lynx live here. Nature can expand undisturbed. Or at least it should. Because gaps appear in the wood again and again – woodworkers have cut down all the trees here. In retrospect, however, it is difficult to determine whether they were sick or destroyed. They were accompanied by the biologist and tree expert Yehor Hrynk and the local forester Mykola Bochkor. The biologist determined that there can of course be bark beetle infestation, fungus and storm damage. “But not to this extent.” The group found several places with felled wood, tree trunks or trees that were marked for the next felling. Beetle or fungus infestation could not be seen.
Figures suggest that the forest in the Carpathian Mountains is really being destroyed: According to the environmental organization Global Forest Watch, the forest cover in Ukraine has decreased by almost 80,000 hectares in recent years. And as early as June 2020, the British environmental organization Earthsight drew attention to the fact that there are irregularities in the country’s wood suppliers.
From the tree in the Carpathian Mountains to the Ikea chair
The way of the wood is complicated. The forest company responsible in the Carpathian Mountains is called Velky Bychikiv. She sells the wood to the local manufacturer VGSM. He uses the wood to make semi-finished furniture that is sold to the EU country Romania. There they are made into Ikea furniture. Above all, the Terje and Ingolf chairs are to be created in this way.
“Aftonbladet” tried to get an interview with the people in charge at Ikea over a longer period of time. All requests were denied. However, Ikea has answered some questions in writing.
► When asked how Ikea sees the problem with the wood from Ukraine, the company replied:
“Correctly used, protective logging is a natural part of responsible forest management, for example for the utilization of the raw material wood after storm damage. However, it should never be misused and Ikea has long been committed to promoting responsible forestry and counteracting the abuse of protective felling. In Ukraine, this work has taken place in cooperation with environmental organizations and has led to a number of advances. “
▶ ︎ When asked how Ikea intends to guarantee that no illegal wood is used, it says:
“Ikea never accepts illegally felled wood and works actively to counteract the risk (…) We see this as our responsibility and have a comprehensive security system and regulations to counteract this risk. (…) We are constantly developing our systems to improve, for example by increasing the number of reviews by third parties and implementing new methods such as DNA tracking. “